Saturday, January 23, 2010


The Hawaii Senate approved same-sex civil unions Friday, potentially setting up the measure for final passage as soon as next week.

The Senate passed the bill on an 18-7 vote, moving it to the House and signaling that the Senate's Democratic majority has enough votes to override a possible veto from Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

The House has yet to decide if it will vote on the bill. House leaders say they will take up the bill if they have a veto-proof two-thirds majority but may let it die if they have only a small majority.

"It's very close," said Democratic Speaker of the House Calvin Say. "During an election year, this issue is so divisive that it may hurt many of our members."
The bill would grant gay and straight couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.

[For the full article, see here.]

Civil Unions are no substitute for Marriage! As long as same-sex couples are denied the label of "marriage," their love is considered to be different and even inferior to the love of heterosexual couples, and that state of affairs must be unacceptable to all those who seek equality for same-sex couples and for all LGBT people.

It is a great mistake to settle for second best, and for crumbs of incrementalism, hoping against hope that civil unions will eventually lead the way toward marriage. The fact is that to the degree that same-sex couples settle for civil unions, it's to that degree that marriage rights will be retarded.

Unless the designation of "marriage" is removed from all hitherto heterosexually married couples, and their relationship status substituted with the designation of "civil unions," same-sex couples should settle for nothing less than the dignity that heterosexually married couples currently enjoy by being recognized as "married," both civilly and sacramentally.

There is absolutely no reason why same-sex couples should be treated any differently than heterosexual couples, and to allow such a difference, to settle for such a difference, is to acknowledge that same-sex love is different from, and even inferior to, heterosexual love, and same-sex love doesn't deserve the dignity that heterosexually married couples enjoy.

And that state of affairs must never be allowed to exist if we are truly intent on equality for same-sex couples and LGBT people!
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If you, as I do, anticipate the Supreme Court taking the Prop 8 case and ultimately ruling against the plaintiffs, we will probably see same-gender marriage banned nationwide before full equality can be won. We see from the way SCOTUS decided the corporate money in politics case that the Right Wing justices have no shame at all. They won't let morality or anything else interfere with enacting their fascist agenda.

However, I think there are explosive consequences to sending down draconian, Dred Scott-style decisions when the country is moving in the opposite direction. Such decisions can be reversed, as the sodomy law case from a few years back clearly proves. I may be wrong, but in the end I really don't think it will matter whether the Court is dominated by "conservative" or "liberal" justices. When equality finally comes to us, I'm convinced it will not be delivered in a partisan package. Some very strong voices on behalf of equality are on the other side of the ideological divide(i.e. Andrew Sullivan, Ted Olson) and I predict those voices will multiply.

Jerry Maneker said...

I do agree, Don Charles, that SCOTUS is likely to vote against Prop. 8 and equality for LGBT people, given its current composition. However, I'm not as optimistic as are you regarding the country moving in the direction of equality. As you know, whenever same-sex marriage was put to a vote of the electorate (which should never have been allowed to happen in the first place), it was rejected and, in the case of California, even rescinded.

Advertising works, and to the degree that multi-millions of dollars are spent by "religious" and other assorted organizations spreading lies about Gay people, and gullible people believing those lies, it is unlikely that we'll see equality anytime soon.

I still believe that if homophobic churches were peacefully and continually picketed, with signs and speeches given showing how defaming Gay people and "bearing false witness" against them was diametrically opposed to Jesus' teachings; monies raised by HRC and allied organizations was directed to Lambda Legal and other LGBT rights attorneys so that equality was sought in the courts and tax-exempt status was removed from homophobic churches; people wouldn't settle for crumbs of incrementalism, we'd have a much better chance of having equality much sooner than I perceive it happening now.

genevieve said...

TO me the failure came when at the beginning of the gay liberation movement, leadership was more interested in assimilation rather than fighting for equality. Transgender people knew this all along. Settling for second best is not my idea of equality.

Jerry Maneker said...

As you know, genevieve, being a little equal is like being a little bit pregnant. It doesn't exist! Equality means FULL equality, and we must settle for nothing less, for to do so not only weakens our position but retards full and equal rights that LGBT people must have that are the same in every way that heterosexuals enjoy.



I was heartened by the rallies that sprang up across the country after Prop 8's passage, which were HEAVILY attended by Straight allies, particularly young people. I feel that, in the future, new generations of Christians, Muslims, etc, will be less tolerant of institutionalized heterosexism within their faith traditions. Society is definitely moving in the direction of equality, but my question is: Are LGBT folk ready to move, too? There is a stubborn tendency toward self-marginalization that disturbs me no end.

Jerry Maneker said...

If the courts validate Prop. 8, it will be interesting to see the degree of revulsion among LGBT people, allies, and young people toward that distinct possibility.

You may well be right that there will be less tolerance of institutionalized heterosexism and, concurrently, less homophobia in the future, but I'm not that sanguine about it occurring any time soon. As I wrote, advertising works, particularly among gullible people who lack sufficient critical thinking skills, and that's why the lies and distortions made regarding same-sex marriage, paid for by multi-millions of dollars, enabled Prop. 8 to pass in California when, at the beginning, Prop. 8 was thought to be doomed to failure based on polls taken before the deluge of lies and fear-mongering that bombarded the public.

Regarding self-marginalization, to the degree that equality is seen as becoming a reality in the near future, many LGBT people will likely not be content to ghettoize themselves. Now, many do so out of fear, internalized homophobia, and justifiable suspicion of Straight people.

Some, of course, revel in viewing themselves as sexual outlaws and, unfortunately, although that is their right, many of them are unwitting conspirators with the rabid homophobes who use publicly salacious facets of that ghettoizing to convince their viewers that LGBT people don't deserve equality.